Queen Supercedure (from Bee-L)

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Countryboy
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Queen Supercedure (from Bee-L)

Unread post by Countryboy »

I rarely visit Bee-L, but had some time last night and read the thread about Queen Supercedure. It was a pretty good thread, but there are a few points that nobody bothered to mention.

I've been keeping bees since 2004, and started grafting around 2010. I bought a set of marking pens from Mann Lake. While I have occasionally found 3 year old queens since, I noticed something about their mark. Almost all the marker paint had rubbed off them. Sometimes, it was only a speck of paint remaining in the groove around that rounded spot on her thorax. I quickly decided it was too much bother to carry multiple marking pens, and try to find queens and remark them if their paint was wearing away.
So how many unmarked queens in my hives are young queens, and how many are 3 year old queens who wore off all the marker paint? (I don't clip wings, so marker paint is what I rely on.) Has the quality of the paint in the markers declined in the past 20 years? Is there a new ink formulation that is a half cent cheaper to produce, but doesn't last as long? Were marker pens made in China 20 years ago? Is everyone using the same marker pens from Mann Lake? (Do all bee suppliers sell the same marker pens made by the same manufacturer?)

From what I understand, since 2007 beekeepers have earned more money from pollination than from honey production. Almonds has been the largest driver of this. Anecdotally, I have heard migratory beekeepers say that it is not uncommon for 10%-15% of queens to fail or turn into drone layers while being trucked around. This is one of the reasons beekeepers are requeening more often.
If a queen turns into a drone layer, will the bees try to supercede her? Or are the fertilized eggs/larvae too old to raise a new queen by the time the bees realize it, dooming the hive? (I don't know. I'm not migratory, and have only seen a drone layer hive a few times in my life...virgin queens which failed to mate.)
Has queen longevity declined over the past 20 years, or has how beekeepers managed hives changed over the past 20 years? If a guy was a stationary honey producer 20 years ago, and now he is a migratory pollinator, how many more times are his bees moved every year? How much more stress has the beekeeper added to the queen now, that wasn't present 20 years ago?
Comparing queen longevity in stationary hives 20 years ago to queen longevity in stationary hives now would be a better comparison. The stress of being trucked around umpteen times adds a big variable in queen longevity.
IIRC, Horace Bell retired about 20 years ago. The stories I've heard say he broke every hive down to 4 frames of bees and gave them a new Wilbanks queen every year. He wouldn't have been requeening if it didn't make him money.

How many northern beekeepers truck bees to Florida or Texas to winter them now so the queen never shuts down, whereas 20 years ago they would have kept them buried in snow? How many beekeepers are trying to stimulate the queen to lay more during the winter, to build up populations for almond pollination? How much does this increased egg laying decrease queen longevity? Once the queen runs out of sperm, her life is over. If 20 years ago we had a queen that only laid a bunch for 4 months a year and lived for 3 years, and now we have a queen that lays constantly all year but only lives a year - how do we measure queen longevity? Should longevity based upon a calendar, or should queen longevity be based upon the number of eggs laid? (and that's much more difficult to track and quantify.)

How many beekeepers are keeping bees now like they did 20 years ago? I'm up over 100 hives now. I'm still a stationary honey producer, selling to stores and farmers markets. I very seldom see a queen failure. When I do find a failed hive, I usually find opened queen cells - and I interpret this to be a virgin that never returned from her mating flight, and the hive died or is dying when I find it. I don't requeen on any set schedule. In the spring, if I have a really weak hive, I kill the queen and combine it with an overwintered nuc.
I use 5 frame deeps as mating nucs and for overwintering. If I find a dwindling hive during the summer, I will just shake the bees out. If I have a nuc available at that yard, I may drop it in if they still have time to make a honey crop, but I only keep nucs at a couple of yards.
Are my queens living more or less than when I started? I don't know. The marker paint I use seldom lasts 3 years, and I really only use 2 years of paint colors. In the spring, I identify my strongest overwintered colonies. Colonies with 2 year old queens are then evaluated as queen mothers to graft from.
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio
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Countryboy
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Re: Queen Supercedure (from Bee-L)

Unread post by Countryboy »

Here's an interesting study that just came out a couple weeks ago looking at queen failure.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases ... 64YYef5Ws0

Being heat stressed was affecting queens. (and also pesticide exposure)

I'm wondering how long being heat stressed affects queens. Will it affect her her whole life, or are the protein markers from being heat stressed just present if she has been heat stressed recently? And likewise, I wonder about the markers for pesticide exposure. If she is exposed to higher (non-lethal) levels of a pesticide in a one time event, does it still affect her the remainder of her life, even if she does not have long term exposure?
B. Farmer Honey
Central Ohio
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